Preface
AtthetimeIbeganthisproject,thebicentennialanniversaryoftheHaitian
Revolution had reminded the world of the ‘‘horrors of Saint-Domingue,’’
the most brutal slave colony in history, out of which arose the most radi-
cal liberation movement of the so-called ‘‘Age of Revolutions.’’ Still, little
scholarly attention had been devoted to the cultures of slavery of Old
RegimeFranceand,inparticular,thetextsandliteraryrepresentationspro-
duced about them. While this may not seem surprising, given the his-
toric suppression of colonialism and slavery inWestern historiographyand
humanistic disciplines, more remarkable was that a certain silence around
colonial slavery persisted in the very subdiscipline whose mission it was to
promote the studyof colonial legacies and non-European traditions in the
humanities—postcolonialstudies.Equallystrikingtomewasthatthebur-
geoningsubfieldoffrancophoneCaribbeanstudiesdemonstratedconsider-
able disregard for early colonial narratives and cultural history, despite the
criticalinterestofliteraryspecialistsintheoriesofcreolizationthatdescribe
theemergenceofsyncreticculturalformsontheplantation.Isoondiscov-
ered, however, that there were important reasons for these silences. For a
literaryscholar,itisimmediatelyfarmoregratifyingtoreadnovelsofslavery
and colonialism written by postcolonial writers committed to reimagining
the subversiveness, resistance, and intelligence of captive peoples than to
confront the missionary relations, colonial histories, legal codes, travel lit-
erature,novels,andpoliticaltreatisesthatrepresentthesamepeopleinquite
differentterms.Atthesametime,fewofthecategoriesandconceptscurrent
inpostcolonialstudiesareusefulinadiscussionoftheOldRegimecultures
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